It's hard to describe what the meeting between West and East was like, when two sides descending from a single family name shared the same space for a few days. It's interesting to consider how your experiences and perspective are shaped by being born and raised in a certain time and place. My cousins, Roman [...]

It's hard to describe what the meeting between West and East was like, when two sides descending from a single family name shared the same space for a few days. It's interesting to consider how your experiences and perspective are shaped by being born and raised in a certain time and place. My cousins, Roman and Simona, came of age in small town Czechoslovakia behind the Iron Curtain, while I was raised small-town within the consumer culture of 1970s America.
Roman told me how, as he completed his mandatory military service under the Soviets, he was told, 'The Americans will shoot you down' and then he indicated as if holding a rifle, pointing at the sky, firing away.
Two Cold War-era Superpowers tried to convince us that we were enemies, but deep down we both knew that there was family across that ocean.
The meeting went like this: we arrived at the home that Roman, downstairs, and Simona's family, upstairs, shared. Simona came to the door and excitedly waved at us before returning inside. Then, we were met by all at the door and subsequently treated to a delicious traditional Czech meal. Initially we communicated with the help of Simona's daughter, Daniela, who had attended a language school.
Soon though, Simona's friend Misa arrived from Prague. A native of a nearby village, Misa speaks very good English and served as a vital bridge between English and Czech. She graciously stayed with us throughout the weekend to serve as translator until she had to return to her job at the university in Prague.
We learned about each other's lives while sharing good food, laughter, and family photographs. It was a joyous reunion, really, and my only regret is that my Czech vocabulary was so limited.
We may not have shared many common words, but one word we all understood is family (rodina in Czech). As my wife Kathie shared with the help of a translator at church the following Sunday, love knows no language. And, indeed, that was our experience of meeting our family from the East. When West met East, we simply became one large family that spanned the globe.